Health Technology for TB Control in Ukraine Shows Foreign Assistance Cuts Could Severely Undermine Infectious Disease Response and Global Health Security

{Photo credit: NEX Noticias de Ciencia / CC BY-SA}Photo credit: NEX Noticias de Ciencia / CC BY-SA

Devex has reported on the potential impact of US foreign aid cuts on effective programs for combating drug-resistant TB in Ukraine. Devex looks at strides that have been made since 2008 with the e-TB Manager—a web-based information management tool needed for TB control. The first digital health tool to be adopted by the government nationwide, the tool was implemented as part of the MSH-led, USAID-funded program, Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS). The U.S. government has announced proposed cuts of about a third to foreign assistance spending. Devex interviewed Niranjan Konduri, a principal technical adviser for the program to understand the implications.

TB experts and Ukrainian health professionals warned that such drastic cuts could jeopardize the progress of the digital health program, and others like it, as well as the country’s broader fight against MDR-TB.

“This is a concrete example of how foreign aid works,” Niranjan Konduri, a principal technical adviser for the program, told Devex. “The current administration’s proposed cuts … if enacted, could severely roll back gains made in Ukraine after more than seven years of international partnership.”

“Without digital health technology to support surveillance, diagnosis, medication adherence and patient care, Ukraine’s drug-resistant tuberculosis could be worse than it is, spreading across borders,” he added….

Two recent studies led by Konduri on the e-TB Manager program — both in Ukraine and across nine other countries — found positive results, including 81 percent of users, such as doctors, nurses and laboratory professionals, who agreed that the tool improved patient care; and nearly 70 percent who said it enhanced productivity.

At the time of the study in 2016, e-TB Manager in Ukraine had more than 1,300 active users in nearly 600 health facilities, and had recorded 6 million transactions. The number of TB cases recorded in the system nearly doubled from 120,000 to 230,000 over the course of three years.

Read the full article at Devex.